What is in this article?:
- Mechanical hedge pruning and topping of commercial pecan trees in the Southwest increase the income potential for producers.
- Pruning and topping help manage pecan tree size and improve orchard light penetration which can increase nut yields on lower branches.
- Hedging during the on-year reduces the amount of nut-bearing wood, fruit load, and is thought to increase on year nut quality; plus increases off-year nut yield and reduces alternate bearing, says James Walworth of the University of Arizona.
Sticktight (meatless shell) numbers increased significantly in the Wichita; up from 1 percent to 3 percent over four years. Western Schley sticktights increased but the amount was not significantly higher four years after hedging.
Nut numbers showing pre-germination, or vivipary, was varied but not related to hedging.
Pecan producers are very interested in the hedging impact on the alternate bearing crop cycle. Producers prefer fewer major yield swings during the on-off year cycles.
“Alternate bearing in the Western Schley and Wichita blocks appeared to decrease when hedging and topping were conducted,” Walworth said. “More hedging data is required to convincingly draw a firmer conclusion.”
Alternate bearing in FICO’s Western Schley block was basically “knocked out.” Studies conducted elsewhere support a reduction in alternate bearing from hedging, but not to the extent of the study at the FICO farm.